They are calling it the queer Eucharist. It is sparsely attended some evenings, with about a dozen folks sometimes. The service is the response of the parish priest, the Revd Samantha Caravan. Last fall she suggested the service to her parish to reach out to folks who have felt alienated by the Church’s historic opposition to sexual minorities. The congregation as a whole was in favor, however individual GLBT folk who were already members of the parish were hesitant. Some were turned off by calling it a queer Eucharist because the word has a lot of baggage, especially for older GLBTQ folk, even though many in the younger age groups have embraced the term. Others felt there was no need for a separate Eucharist for GLBTQ people. But their pastor eventually won them over and the parish began holding the Eucharist monthly starting last SEP.
The parish had also started reaching out to the GLBTQ community a year earlier. The parish was awarded a grant from the diocese that allowed it to hire a youth minister. Meagh Culkeen was hired and began in late fall 20114. The parish is located in a neighborhood with lots of high school aged youth. Part of the youth minister’s task was to reach out specifically to GLBTQ youth in the area. Meagh, who prefers the personal pronoun they, began by visiting local gay-straight organizations in the nearby schools and then organizing events at the parish building. In the near future they will have a parish-based drop-in center for youth with no particular place to be after school.
The queer Eucharist that followed the Primates’ Meeting in JAN was visited by the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC), the Most Revd Fred Hiltz. +Fred gave a presentation after the Eucharist which was followed by an hour of questions & answers. The discussion was lively and was moderated by the Revd Canon Douglas Graydon, the associate priest at St John’s West Toronto and who is married to a man. Archbishop Hiltz was scheduled to speak after the queer Eucharist later in the year, but requested to visit earlier after the events of the Primates’ Meeting.
He reported on the Primates’ Meeting and also where the ACoC was with regard to same gender marriage. Next year, the General Synod of the ACoC is scheduled to entertain a motion in favor of altering the marriage canon of the national church to allow same gender marriage. Should the motion be passed in 2016, it would require an additional affirmative vote at the following General Synod in 2019 to become church law.
One question asked by one of the 150+ participants at the meeting was regarding the primate’s personal feelings regarding GLBTQ folk and the church, in general, and same gender marriage in the church, in particular. +Fred shared that his personal beliefs were for inclusion and that he vocally supported GLBTQ folks and their place in the church, their relationships and same gender marriages fully celebrated by their communities faith. He also shared that he was restrained at this moment by his position, that as primate of the ACoC and the president of the General Synod, he was limited to what he could say on behalf of the ACoC.
Following the event, Canon Greydon expressed his happiness with the success of the evening with the primate. He also praised +Fred for his candor and vulnerability as folks asked questions. The Canon also pointed out that the primate would be open to visiting with more GLBTQ groups around the church for similar events, but that folks needed to reach out and invite him, he can’t invite himself!